Margaret Thatcher collection snapped up at Christie’s auction

Former prime minister’s belongings attract bidders from 41 countries

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British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher shares a joke with American President Ronald Reagan, at No. 10 Downing Street, London.    (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Margaret Thatcher’s style was not to everyone’s taste, but that didn’t stop an auction of the Iron Lady’s belongings selling 100% by lot at Christie’s yesterday. The 185-lot sale fetched £2.6m hammer (£3.3m with premium), with bidders from 41 countries vying for items of clothing, jewellery and memorabilia from her time in office.

The top lot was a model of an American bald eagle, which was given to Thatcher by the former US president Ronald Reagan in 1984, and sold to an online buyer for £220,000 hammer (£266,500 with premium, est £5,000-£8,000). Thatcher’s prime ministerial red leather dispatch box also sparked protracted bidding from as far afield as South Korea and Malta and sold for £200,000 hammer (£242,000 with premium, est £3,000-£5,000).

The former British prime minister’s personal belongings were equally popular; her blue velvet wedding dress, said to be inspired by Gainsborough’s portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, sold for £20,000 hammer (£25,000 with premium, est £10,000-£15,000).

The auction’s success may well spur on the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), which is now in conversation with Thatcher’s family about acquiring some belongings. The move follows criticism that the museum had originally declined an offer. “We hope to take [discussions] forward in the New Year,” said a spokeswoman for the V&A, who added that the museum was “not planning to take part in the Christie’s sale”.

The second online sale of 233 items finishes today; the two auctions were expected to make a minimum of £500,000.

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